Hard Times: Book 1 Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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Sissy's Progress


      Sissy still has this belief that her father has not deserted her. She is hopeful about his coming back. She always asks Gradgrind about any letter for her. The schoolmaster Mr. McChokumchild reports Gradgrind about the unsatisfactory progress of Sissy at school. He says that she has a very thick head for figures, she is too slow in learning dates, and she has no skill for arithmetic.

      Sissy says to Louisa that she makes all kinds of faults at school and her teacher is not satisfied with her. For example, when the teacher has asked her whether the nation was prosperous or not, she replied but was found wrong. She had said that, she did not know whether the nation was prosperous or not, whether she herself was in flourishing state or not, unless she know who had got the money, or it belonged to her or not. Sissy also explains the state of depression into which her father had fallen before deserting her. For certain time, her father had been displeased as a clown because his antics no longer made the audience laugh.

Critical Analysis

      Sissy’s past life and character are more elaborated in this chapter. Sissy is regrettable for her mistakes that she has been committing at school. Sissy’s answers prove wrong according to textbook standards but on the contrary, they used to be full of common sense. The kind of questions asked to her and Sissy’s reply to them suggest author’s comment on the particular kind of education policy.

      Sissy's statements about her father’s growing inability in amusing but her consequent disappointment is quite pathetic. She wins our sympathy and pity. The noteworthy point is the companionship between Louisa and Sissy.

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